Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bed time just got a whole lot worse...

Back in mid-May we decided to cut Scarlett off from her pacifier. We told her that we were going to round up all of the pacifiers and put them somewhere safe to give to her baby brother when he was ready for them.  This worked well with the exception of a couple of break downs in which the pacifier was forcefully demanded and unfortunately declined. We powered through this stage of bed time comfort only to open the door to another.  She immediately latched onto the "I need..." trick.  "I need juice", "I need an animal", "I need another blanket" and eventually she landed on using our favorite of excuses,  "I need something" (and sometimes "I need something from the living room").  After spending 20 minutes every night, stepping in and out of her room to pick things from around the house that we thought might pacify the "I need" drama, the "I need something" excuse was no longer going to fly with mom and dad.  We liked it while it took the attention away from the lack of pacifier, but now bed time was becoming a 45 minute circus that was pushing us to the "what do you need" breaking point. 
Now the dilemma began on how to break this demanding and time consuming habit that we allowed Scarlett to indulge.  In true Chris and Andrea Becher form we decided to go cold turkey.  We spent the first night talking to Scarlett and walking her through the expectations of the evening.  Telling her that she can ask for one thing and then we would have to leave her to fall asleep on her own.  For two nights this ended in serious screaming and crying and Chris falling asleep on her floor with his hand attached to her back for comfort.  Not what we had in mind when we decided to go "cold turkey".  So on night number three we did it.  We let Scarlett scream.  A type of scream we have never heard from her tiny mouth before.  The type reserved for children with a severe injury, or deep troublesome nightmares.  For an hour and a half we took turns picking her up and putting her back into bed after she wandered, screaming, into the living room to yell at us,  "I will never sleep".  She screamed "mommy, no" for a hour and I am sure that our neighbors thought there was something terribly wrong in our house.  We kept looking at each other questioning our decision and asking "what do we do?".  It was the first time since we took the cry it out method with Scarlett at 8 months old that we truly questioned our decision.  The only difference was this was harder.  The constant kicking, the fact that she could call out "no, momma" and "please stay", the slamming of her fists on the bed room door, the giant tears and chase from bed to living room, living room to bed.  All of these things could be cured with a 30 second cuddle, but that 30 seconds would turn into a lifetime of habits.
With baby number two on the way Chris and I knew that a 45 minute to 1 hour bed time routine would no longer be an option.  We made the decision to let Scarlett "cry it out" because we knew when she woke up in the morning there would be a smile on her face and a faint memory of the night before.  That hour and a half battle would soon turn into 15 minutes and 15 minutes to instant understanding of what to expect at bedtime.  We still spend 20 minutes brushing teeth, reading books, saying prayers and singing songs and these 20 minutes will never change.  We chose to love Scarlett by guiding her habits.  By talking to her and trying to reason with her 2 year old brain.  We are still fighting the bed time battle, but every night is a little easier than the one before it.  The fits are a little calmer and shorter in duration.  We continue to give her hugs and put her gently into bed until her eyes finally shut and she drifts off to sleep, on her own.  Just one more step on the journey to independence.  Our little toddler is growing up. 


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